Womp womp. That was a rough one.
Week three didn't exactly do a whole lot to change the national perception of the Big Ten thus far in 2018. The East Division had been heralded as the best in America prior to the season's kickoff, but early losses by Michigan and Michigan State have no doubt impacted the public opinion. Only six of the conference's teams were successful yesterday (Michigan State had a bye), and a few of the losses were downright embarrassing.
From Fox research: The Big Ten lost seven non-conference games today to unranked teams. It's the first time that has happened since the AP poll started in 1936
— robert smith (@Robert26Smith) September 16, 2018
The good news is that Ohio State took care of business once again and remains unbeaten with Urban Meyer set to return to the sideline next Saturday. There are still some concerns – especially at linebacker and safety – but the Buckeyes passed their first big test of the season last night in Arlington.
We look back at a weekend that didn't exactly go as planned.
BYU 24, No. 6 Wisconsin 21
The Badgers' senior kicker entered the season on the Groza Watch, but a game-tying 42-yarder proved to be too much for Rafael Gaglianone. The West Division favorites fell to 2-1 on the season thanks to a stunner from BYU. For the most part, Wisconsin was simply outplayed in this one.
I can't decide if Alex Hornibrook just hasn't developed over the years or if it's all just a matter of Wisconsin not asking him to do too much. It's probably a combination of the two, but he continues to look like a lackluster signal-caller. The junior completed 18 of 28 passes for 190 yards with zero scores and one interception. Jonathan Taylor ended the day with 26 carries for 117 yards. Backup tailback Taiwan Deal found the end zone twice on the day. In his return from suspension, Danny Davis chipped in with four receptions for 40.
The BYU offense only managed 311 yards on the day, but three touchdowns and a field goal was evidently enough in Madison. Tanner Mangum threw for just 89 yards and the Cougars' lone passing score came via a trick play involving wide receiver Aleva Hifo. Squally Canada (amazing name) ran for 118 yards and two scores while averaging over 10 per carry.
Are we still sure Wisconsin is the best in the West?
No. 11 Penn State 63, Kent State 10
The Nittany Lions put up 21 in the first quarter and that would prove to be more than enough against the Golden Flashes. The PSU defense held the Flashes to just 221 yards of total offense on the day and plenty of youngsters – including former Ohio State defensive end target Jayson Oweh – saw action for the Nits.
Trace McSorley stole the show with five total touchdowns – two passing and three rushing – to go along with his 283 yards of total offense. Miles Sanders led all rushers with 86 yards and Deandre Thompkins hauled in four passes for 101 yards and a score. Backup quarterback Sean Clifford – a Cincinnati (St. Xavier) product – connected with true freshman wideout Daniel George for a 95-yard touchdown strike in the final quarter. It was the first catch of George's young career. Not a bad start.
Daniel Georges double-move left that corner in the year 2000. pic.twitter.com/p1BltpyNqX
— Onward State (@OnwardState) September 15, 2018
No. 19 Michigan 45, SMU 20
The Wolverines moved to 2-1 on the season with yesterday's 45-20 handling of the Mustangs. Shea Patterson and the Michigan offense were pretty darn effective after a sluggish start as they put up 434 yards and five scores.
The Patterson/Donovan Peoples-Jones connection was especially strong as the duo connected four times for 90 yards with three of those completions resulting in points. Patterson ended the day 14 of 18 for 237 yards and three scores while adding another 20 on the ground. No Karan Higdon meant that sophomore Chris Evans got the bulk of the ground game work. Evans totaled 85 yards on seven carries while backfield mates Tru Wilson and Ben Mason both found the end zone.
Missouri 40, Purdue 37
The Boilermakers gave it their all and nearly captured their first win of the season against an unbeaten SEC opponent, but Tucker McCann's 25-yard field goal gave the Tigers the win as time expired.
The game featured plenty of offense as both Mizzou and Purdue each recorded over 600 yards on the day. David Blough connected on 39 of 55 passes for 572 yards and three scores. Tiger quarterback Drew Lock – a likely high Draft pick – threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns of his own. Both Blough and Lock found the end zone with their legs for a total of four scores a piece on the night.
True freshman Rondale Moore was great again for the Boilers, recording 11 receptions for 137 yards and a score. Brycen Hopkins and Isaac Ziko also topped 100 yards receiving for Purdue. For the Tigers, Jalen Knox hauled in five for 110 and was on the receiving end of a Lock touchdown strike. Larry Roundtree III rumbled for 106 yards on the ground.
Iowa 38, Northern Iowa 14
In a weekend of poor performances, Iowa did manage to get things done while looking like a competent football program. I suppose facing Northern Iowa is a welcome sight after waging war with the Cyclones last week.
The Hawkeyes held the Panthers scoreless until the fourth quarter as the defense continues to impress. On the other side of the ball, Nathan Stanley threw for 309 yards and a pair of scores. Toren Young ran for 82 and a score while Mekhi Sargent went for 72 and two touchdowns. Wideout Nick Easley led all receivers with 10 receptions for 103 yards and a score.
Tight end Noah Fant became the Hawkeyes' all-time touchdown leader at the position when he hauled in No. 14 of his career. Fant ended the day with five catches for 99 yards and the score.
Akron 39, Northwestern 34
What has happened to Pat Fitzgerald and the Wildcats? The Zips scored 36 in the second half to rally in a come-from-behind victory in Evanston. That's two losses in a row for Northwestern after looking solid at Purdue in the opener.
Clayton Thorson had a career day but was plagued by three big turnovers. He threw for a new career high 383 yards on the day. Jeremy Larkin rushed fr 82 yards and a pair of scores. Cameron Green was Thorson's top target hauling in 11 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Alvin Davis' 97-yard interception return touchdown was a major spark for the Zips in the third quarter. Senior linebacker Ulysees Gilbert recovered a Thorson fumble in the end zone in the fourth which gave the Zips a lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Troy 24, Nebraska 19
Nebraska is now 0-2 for the first time since 1957. I realize Adrian Martinez didn't suit up for the Husks, but there's absolutely no excuse for that type of performance against a team like Troy. Andrew Bunch – the walk-on who was most recently playing quarterback at Scottsdale Community College – was beyond bad against the Trojans. Nebraska fans are going to need plenty of patience as their savior looks to get things on the right track.
The Husks were plagued by three turnovers with Bunch being responsible for a pair. The signal-caller threw for 177 yards and two touchdowns as he connected with both Stanley Morgan Jr. and J.D. Spielman for scores. True freshman tailback Marcus Washington led all backs with 92 yards on the ground.
For the Trojans, it was B.J. Smith's 26-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that mostly put the game out of reach. Nebraska had a chance to take the lead late but Troy safety Will Sunderland – a former Oklahoma signee – picked off a Bunch pass to put an end to the comeback hopes.
Minnesota 26, Miami (OH) 3
Minnesota's quest for an undefeated season and College Football Playoff berth took another step in the right direction against Miami. The defense held the Redhawks under 200 yards of total offense while the Gophs scattered 26 points over the game's first three quarters.
Freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad accounted for 142 passing yards and two of the team's scores. Tailback Rodney Smith was injured last week and won't return this year, but Bryce Williams did just fine in his absence. Williams toted the rock an impressive 33 times and ran for 141 yards on the day.
Temple 35, Maryland 14
Heading into the week, we had the Terrapins No. 4 in our power rankings thanks to the opening win over Texas and blowout against Bowling Green. The stock is trending way down after yesterday's home loss to Temple.
Interim head coach Matt Canada and the Maryland offense just couldn't get it going as they totaled just 195 yards on the day with a pair of turnovers. Kasim Hill completed 7 of 17 passes for 56 yards and one interception. Tyrrell Pigrome threw for just seven yards and was also picked off.
Temple totaled 429 yards of total offense with quarterback Anthony Russo and tailback Ryquell Armstead leading the charge. Russo threw for 228 yards and a score while Armstead rumbled for 118. Linebacker Shaun Bradley added a 78-yard pick six late in the game.
Indiana 38, Ball State 10
Tom Allen and the Hoosiers remain unblemished after taking out an in-state foe yesterday. Indiana did some things in all facets of the game with a balanced offense, solid defensive outing, and some big plays on special teams.
True freshman Stevie Scott again led the way in the ground game as he ran for 114 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Peyton Ramsey had an efficient outing in completing 20 of 27 for 173 yards. Ramsey added another 43 and a score with his legs. J-Shun Harris found the end zone on an 86-yard punt return; the third of his career.
Ball State gave the Irish a challenge last week in South Bend. That wasn't the case in week three as the Hoosiers were one of the Big Ten's few who actually took care of business.
Kansas 55, Rutgers 14
Embarrassing. And quite possibly the worst showing the Knights have had under Chris Ash. The Jayhawks had been on a 12-game losing streak before pulling out a win last week against Central Michigan. It's really not a total surprise that Kansas was victorious, but a 41-point loss is inexcusable for Rutgers.
The Jayhawks used a ground-and-pound approach as the running game amassed 400 yards and four scores. Tailback Pooka Williams Jr. was a rare four-star signee for Kansas in 2018, and the freshman led all players with 158 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. The passing game also went for 144 yards and a score, but it really wasn't needed all that much against hapless Rutgers.
The Knights were led by Raheem Blackshear and his 102 yards rushing. True freshman quarterback Artur Stikowski returned to action after getting knocked out of the game last week courtesy of a Nick Bosa sack. He completed just 7 of 19 passes for 47 yards and three interceptions. Not the best outing for the youngster.
South Florida 25, Illinois 19
South Florida was a 10-point favorite in this one so props to the Illini for at least covering the spread. The Bulls were actually trailing 19-7 heading into the fourth but answered in a big way with two touchdowns and a field goal in the game's final frame.
Former Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett stole the show in Champaign as he threw for 411 yards and two scores. The Illini did manage two interceptions on the day, but it mattered not in the long run. USF tailback Jordan Cronkrite led all backs with 138 yards and a touchdown. Mike Epstein led the charge for the Illinois offense as he ran for 113 yards and a score while adding another 56 on four receptions.
This really was an abysmal weekend for the conference. The Badgers' home loss was especially perplexing and Northwestern falling to a MAC team isn't a good look either. Is there a chance Iowa is the best team in the West? Do we have them too low in our rankings? The Hawkeye front seven is no joke and we'll find out exactly how good they are next weekend when the Badgers arrive.
We've reshuffled our power rankings quite a bit, but it's abundantly clear that Ohio State and Penn State are the conference's top teams right now. The Wolverines have bounced back nicely since the loss to Notre Dame and it's looking like Shea Patterson is getting into a bit of a groove.
Looking ahead to next week, the best matchup should be in Iowa City when the Badgers come to town. Scott Frost and the Husks head to Ann Arbor while Indiana will look to stay unbeaten with a home contest against Sparty. The Buckeyes – and Urban Meyer – will match up with mighty Tulane in the team's final non-conference game.
How do you rank the Big Ten following this weekend's atrocious showing?